The debate continues on whether we as a protection industry should form our own trade body to represent the views of our market in a more focused manner.
The call for this body is largely based on an opinion which many senior protection figures share – that the Association of British Insurers does not place sufficient priority on protection, focusing more on the needs of other areas of its remit.
Opinions are split on the topic, even among those who agree that such an entity is necessary, with some talking about an Aifa-backed splinter group and others favouring an entirely new and independent organisation, distinct from other trade bodies that, it is perceived, have failed to represent protection robustly enough in the past.
What any industry must have if it wants its causes to be heard and, more importantly, taken seriously in the corridors of power is a unified, authoritative voice. There exist already myriad groups, bodies, associations and initiatives within protection, each championing a specific product, sales or regulatory agenda and each vying to have its say with the Government or the regulator.
The cacophony of noise must be unbearable – with distinct issues hard to pick out from the collective din.
The ABI remains the logical and best placed trade body to represent the views of the protection industry where it matters. Theirs is a voice which is taken seriously by those in authority and can therefore be influential when it comes to champ-ioning our needs.
If the ABI has failed to make protection a priority in the past, then should we as an industry not blame ourselves in some part for not making it such?
Some of the key players in protection have already joined forces with the ABI in revamping its protection strategy committee, with Aviva’s protection director Richard Verdin chairing and Lifesearch supremo Tom Baigrie also on board, with the aim of continuing his campaign to promote the need for protection to the masses.
With people like this, as well as others such as Deepak Jobanputra of PruProtect and Roger Edwards of Royal London involved, it is hard to see the committee becoming just another talking shop.
There are many areas of concern facing our market and the nature of debate means that we will not all agree on how we prioritise these issues when addressing them. What we should agree on though is that the ABI must be our mouthpiece if we want them addressed at all.
Phil Jeynes is head of new business at LifeQuote, Direct Life and Pension Services